I wonder what Noah felt as he waited on God’s boat for the waters to recede. Or was it just as bad to wait for the rains to come? How many decades did it take the man to build that thing? And then an entire year of waiting for dry ground so he could get off and make a covenant? All this hellacious waiting involved. It’s preposterous. But so bleedingly necessary.
I cherish the day coming when I can step off the boat into my new home, new sanctuary, new purpose. The day when I look across the mountains where my soul already lives. I want so badly to run in the coolness of the day, drink from the river, and play in the fields on the side of the mountain. Whether I speak of Heaven or not, I know I’m going to a dream that my soul has been longing for, for years upon years. And it is coming. It’s right out there beyond my grasp. If I could just get off this island. If the waters would just go down already!
I feel like Shasta Among the Tombs, my back at the Lion’s, and my face toward the grave.
“Who stood with me in the fire?
Who pulled me out of the water?
Who carried me on their shoulder?” (Wickham)
I remember sitting on the bank of a retention pond at the crossing of Twentieth Street and Needle Palm. I was hitting my fists on the side of my face repeatedly. Angry. Cursing. Grabbing fistfuls of grass and throwing them into the water. Writhing in agony. I was so helpless and hopeless. But I knew You were there with me. My parents had just told me they were getting a divorce. And everything in my life that seemed at all sane became clinical.
But You were there with me. Somehow You lifted me up on Your shoulders and carried me from that place. And I don’t know anymore what happened. But I know You saved me.
I remember drowning. Once when I was only a few years old at a water-park. That feeling of spinning and twirling just out of arm’s reach from anyone that may have cared. But it didn’t compare at all to the feeling of holding my son’s hand as they induced him into a coma. He stared into my eyes while I recited Scripture. And then the eyes closed, and he disappeared. I could barely stand, much less walk. Somehow my feet carried me to the Waiting Room, where my legs collapsed under the weight of my dying soul. That was drowning. The feeling of your chest caving in from doubt and disbelief. The worry that your whole existence has been merely a string of fraudulent recitals and dances, and now—NOW—Here and Now—real, authentic, butchering, abhorrent life has caught up to you, grabbed you by the throat, and showed you who you really are.
But You were there, too. You took my hand and pulled me out of the water.
I remember this year. A year of politics and charades. Listening to those I love most tell me their worries, doubts, and fears, and watching myself stop myself at the edge of tears, as I hold back what I truly think and believe and wait, wait, wait! It feels like fire, burning me slowly. The melting of my skin as it clings to my bones and turns into scarred tissue. I watched so many cry and cry to be understood, and all I could do was recite another lie I heard some others tell me before.
But You were there, too. You whispered in my ear, “Son, all I’ve ever needed you to be was that.”
I am so tired of waiting. But there’s purpose in the waiting, all around that damned pain. There’s power in there, too. And I long to see the waters recede, for they won’t just disappear. No, they will mount up like a great waterfall and come rushing down on us with the strength of the gods. They will tear through us, my wife, children, and I, and we will see the glory of the One whose promises are always Yes and Amen.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah)
And nothing I have matters anymore. And nothing holds me back anymore. I will look upon those mountains. All I must do is wait beside the One who is always with me, for the waters to recede.